The Story Behind Michelangelo’s David by Silvia Donati

David Galleria dell'Accademia

The David, perhaps the world’s most famous sculpture, surely one of Florence’s greatest attractions, stands at 5.16 meters tall in the Accademia Gallery.

This outstanding sculpture was created between 1501 and 1504 by Renaissance genius Michelangelo, after the enormous block of marble used for the statue had lied abandoned for 25 years in the courtyard of the Opera del Duomo because the two artists originally commissioned with the work thought the marble, which came from the quarries in Carrara, had too many imperfections.

– See more at  Italy Magazine:

Three of Ennio Morricone’s most famous soundtracks

Italy had reason to celebrate at this year’s Academy Awards thanks to the well-deserved Oscar win by Ennio Morricone. The 87-year-old composer won Best Original Score for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, making him the oldest Oscar winner ever.

Morricone, who received an honorary Oscar in 2007 “for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music,” had been nominated five previous times.

– Source: Italy Magazine. See more at Academy Award Winner


Under the Etruscan Sun in Prato

There’s just so much to do and see in and around Florence and it’s worth it to explore surrounding cities. The city of Prato, sponsoring wonderful and free day trips from Florence called “That’s Prato” in spring and fall, offers the opportunity to do just that.

Only 30 minutes from Florence. Prato has a population of over 200,000 and is the third largest city in central Italy. It is trying to change its image from industrial to emphasizing its museums, monuments and cultural heritage.

See more by Victoria de Maio and her beautiful photographs.


Art in Florence: Top Twenty Artworks

“As adamant fans of the art in Florence, it often breaks our hearts to hear that travelers to this fair city miss out on some of Florence’s renowned works. Of course there are many reasons to visit this multi-faceted town, but one of the main motivations has always been to see Florence’s breathtaking painting, sculpture, and architecture. According to UNESCO (although it may be a somewhat Western centric view), 60% of the world’s most important works of art are located in Italy and approximately half of these are in Florence. – ”

See more at Art in Florence by Select Study Abroad



My First Instawalk in Florence

“Yesterday morning as I was having breakfast and scrolling through Instagram I found out that an Instawalk was about to take place in Florence.

Since I had no plans and my daughter was going to be out for the day I decided to be a little spontaneous, grabbed my phone, jumped on my bike and reached the crowd of Instagramers in Piazza del Duomo.

For two hours we walked around Florence and although I had seen the places hundreds of times before it felt amazing to get out and shoot again. I so needed this in order to get back on track with my personal photography which I have honestly been neglecting a bit lately.”

Read the complete article and see the pictures in A Dusty Olive Green


What is the Itinerary for Tuscany Yoga Retreat?

ITINERARY JUNE 21-27, 2015

Day 1 – June 21

IMG_090110:30am Meet in the lobby of the Hotel Palazzo Vecchio (via Cennini 4, 50123, Florence, Italy), Visit Piazza Michelangelo
12:00pm Arrive at Antico Borgo di Tignano
12:30pm Lunch & Brief Logistics Talk
1:30pm Pool time, Tignano Tour, R&R
5:00pm Welcome Yoga Practice
7:30pm Sunset Aperitivo
8:00pm Dinner
Post Dinner Solstice Celebration

Day 2 – June 22

8:00am Yoga Practice
9:30am Breakfast
10:30am Depart for Monteriggioni
11:30am Castle Tour
12:30pm Picnic Lunch in Monteriggioni

IMG_09362:30pm Siena
6:00pm Aperitivo on Il Campo (At Bar Il Palio), Siena

8:00pm Dinner
9:00pm Restorative Yoga Practice

Day 3 – June 23

8:00am Yoga Practice
IMG_09669:00am Breakfast

12:30pm Lunch at the Borgo
1:30pm Depart for Radda in Chianti
2:30pm Radda in Chianti walking tour and wine tasting

6:30pm Yoga Practice
8:00pm Dinner

Day 4 – June 24

8:00am Breakfast
9:30am Yoga Practice

IMG_0898Bicycle around the Tuscan Hillside

Explore Casole d’Elsa by foot

7:00pm Dinner
8:30pm Yin Yoga Practice

Day 5 – June 25

7:30am Yoga
9:00am Breakfast
10:00am Explore San Gimignano (Market Day)—try World’s Best Gelato

2:30pm Tasting Sensation (cheese, wine, olive oil…)
Post lunch: Optional Massages & pool time

7:00pm Yoga
8:30pm Bruschetta Class & Dinner

Day 6 – June 26

7:00am Breakfast
7:30am Depart for Beach Day on the Mediterranean!

IMG_035711:00am Arrive Fonteblanda
12:00pm Catered lunch at Beach Club
1:30pm Depart for Petriolo Natural Hot Springs & Spa

7:00pm Restorative Yoga Practice
8:30pm Final Dinner & Inspiration

Day 7 – June 27


8:00am Closing Yoga Practice
10:00am Brunch
11:00am Departures
12:00pm Arrive Florence


To make your reservation go to book now page to place $500 deposit. If you have questions please email or call 872-228-9642 (2AT-YOGA)

Frugal Yogis Need Yoga Retreat

Question: What are the least expensive retreats you offer?
Answer: $1250 Bali & Costa Rica; $1185 Thailand; Costa Rica $1350 for 8 days ALL included.

Your Investment: Spiritual Adventures with Alchemy Tours, founded by Jacob Young and Silvia Mordini

June 21-27, 2015 Tuscany Retreat:
$1800 per person Triple Shared Early Bird
$2025 per person Double/Twin Early Bird
$2430 per person Single Room Early Bird

July 25-Aug 1, 2015 Costa Rica Retreat: (Subtract $150 Early Bird from prices below)
Nature Suite Double (with AC): $1,825.00
Nature Suite Single (with AC): $2,250.00
Mountain View Single (with AC): $2,250.00
Hermitage Double (hotel like): $1,500.00
Hermitage Single (hotel like): $1,750.00
Eco Cottage Double (Natural Air): $1,400.00
Eco Cottage Single (Natural Air): $1,650.00

Oct 3-10, 2015 Bali Retreat:
Double with Private Bath: $1499pp — Early Bird $1250
Single with Private Bath: $1799pp — Early Bird $1550

Oct 11-18, 2015 Thailand Retreat:
Two Bedroom Loft: 940 Euro (approx. $1185USD) per person
Double Semi Private Room: 1040 Euro (approx $1300USD) per person
Single Superior Room: 1140 Euro (approx $1450)

Nov 28-Dec 5, 2015 Prana del Mar Cabo Retreat:
Double $1700
Single $2300

$300 OFF Single Room Tuscany Yoga Retreat June 21-27, 2015
$300 OFF Costa Rica Alchemy of Yoga RTY 200 Hour Teacher Training August 1-22, 2015
$250 OFF Bali Yoga Retreat Oct 3-10, 2015
$200 OFF Double/Triple Room Tuscany Yoga Retreat June 21-27, 2015
$200 OFF Single or Double Prana del Mar Cabo Retreat Nov 28-Dec 5, 2015
$200 OFF Costa Rica Yoga Retreat July 25-Aug 1, 2015
$75 OFF Refer a Friend








Siena & Monteriggioni



We visit Siena on Day 2 of our Tuscany Yoga Retreat! Please enjoy some information about amazing Siena!

Siena is a town in central Tuscany that counts 59,000 inhabitants and it is the capital of the Siena province. It is one of the most fascinating towns in Tuscany, not only for its sights, but also for its surroundings.

It preserves its medieval character to a remarkable degree, and has been largely unspoilt by new buildings. Piazza del Campo is one of the most famous squares in Italy, where the great Palio horserace takes place. In fact Siena retains a ward-centric culture from medieval times. Each ward (contrada) is represented by an animal or mascot, and has its own boundary and distinct identity. Ward rivalries are most rampant during the annual horse race (Palio) in the Piazza del Campo.

In the first half of the 14th century the Sienese school of painting produced several artists such as Duccio di Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, whose works are shown in the Pinacoteca, in the Palazzo Pubblico, and in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.

The streets is Siena are steep as it was built on a ridge, so it is often necessary to cross a deep valley in order to get to the other side of the town. Consequently you need several days to visit every treasure of the town, which has to be done necessarily on foot.

From the hilltop of the town, there is a wonderful varied panorama which includes Monte Amiata and the metalliferous hills, as well as the clay downs of Asciano and the wooded district of Montagnola. To the north, the scenery changes once again, with the densely cultivated hills of the Chianti.

Notable people were born in Siena, as it has always been a lively cultural center: Mauro Pagani, musician, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Saint Catherine, Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli, archaeologist and many more.

Assassin's Creed II panorama


Monteriggioni is, without doubt, one of the most classical and best known Italian walled town. Since the Middle Age its fame was so big that also the great poet Dante Alighieri makes sign to his ’round enclosure’ in the Divine Comedy (Hell, chant XXXI vv. 40-41). The town walls, nearly intact, cover a length of 570 meters and are alternated by 14 towers andtwo gates. The Senese Gate is at the base of a square tower while the Florence Gate is opened in the curtain and defended from one of the towers of the fortified perimeter.

The town was built by the Senesis in the years 1213-1219 on a hilltop overlooking of the Cassia Road. Its ideal position allowed to control the Elsa and the Staggia Valleys in direction in Florence, the historic enemy of Siena, that at that time was rapidly expanding its territory.

The hill where Monteriggioni rises is natural, even if it could seem a great ‘motte’ (from the name of the classical Norman castles ‘Motte-and-Bailey’ built on artificial hills and gifted of enclosure), and the circular, almost perfectly, layout of the walls was obtained simply following the sketch of the ground’s curves of level. In the planning was tried of to limit the weak points for excellence, the gates, entrusting the only connections with the outside only to a  east to west crossing road. To Monteriggioni the military building work appears physically distinguished by the inhabited area confined to its inside but well separated from the walls from a ‘territory of respect’, although in the ancient times the inhabited area has been more intense than today and consequently with a more narrow band of separation. The hamlet that we can admire our daysis essentially authentic, being ever been object of building and tourist speculations. The only changes to its aspect happened in the first years of the 16th century when, trying to conform the fortifications to the development of the new fire weapons, were lowered the towers andaccumulated earth at the base of the walls with the purpose to get a bastionated effect.

Recently a part of the wall walk of the town walls has been restored and made accessible. From the top of the walled circuit, it is possible to admire the surrounding countryside towards Chianti and the Valdelsa and to enjoy a unique view of the town and its fortifications. More info:

Casole D'Elsa






Casole d’Elsa is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Siena in the Italian region Tuscany, located about 50 km southwest of Florence and about 25 km west of Siena. It is a charming medieval hilltop town situated in wonderful countryside around Siena. It is situated 70km from Florence and 35km from the town of Siena. Originally it was a domain of the Bishop of Volterra but in the middle of the 13th century it passed under the control of Siena. The Sienese strengthened the fortifications because of its strategical position. In 1554 Casole surrended, after strenuous resistance, to the imperial and Florentine armies during the war against Siena. The dualism between Siena and Volterra still survives in the daily life of Casole for political purposes it is in the Province of Siena, whereas it falls under the Diocese of Volterra for religious matters. Verrocchio Art School Tuscany Italy.

The shape of Casole is roughly an elongated pear; it is about 400 metres long (North-South) and about 130 metres wide (East-West). The medieval walls, mainly visible on the Westside of the town, enclose it. In the middle of the village runs the main street from north to south, dividing it into two nearly symmetrical parts. View in the direction of San Gimignano.

The countryside surrounding Casole is breathtaking. On a clear day one can see north as far as Apennines on the borders of Tuscany with Emilia Romagna, to the North east the hills of Chianti, to the east the mountains of the Casentino behind Arezzo and the hills of Montagnola, behind which is Siena. Looking south, following the valley of the river Elsa one can see right down to Monte Amiata at the extreme south of Tuscany, and the Metalliferrous hills with their characteristic jets of sulphurous steam.

Main sights
The church of San Niccolò, of Romanesque origin, has a nave and four aisles divided by columns and semicolumns, with two semicircular apses with mullioned windows. The central portal is from the early 14th century, while the portico is modern. It has 17th century frescoes by Rustichino and, at the high altar, one 14th century Madonna of the Sienese School.

The collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta was consecrated in 1161; of the original Romanesque edifice, the façade remains with the bell tower. The upper part is decorated with blinds arches divided by slender semicolumns. The transept is from the 14th century. The interior houses the tombs of Beltramo Aringhieri, by Marco Romano (early 14th century), and of bishop Tommaso Andrei, by Gano di Fazio (1303). Annexed to the church is a Museum of Sacred Art with works by Domenico di Michelino, Alessandro Casolani and others.

The Pieve of San Giovanni Battista, at Mensano, is also from the 12th century. Notable are the sculpted capitals of the columns dividing nave and aisles, considered amongst the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture in the Siena area. From the same period and style is the Pieve di San Giovanni Battista, at Pievescola.
Casole d’Elsa is also home to the world renowned Verrocchio Art Centre offering fine art courses, painting holidays, sculpture courses, studios and accommodation. Nigel Konstam is the resident director and a sculptor whose work is firmly based in the European tradition.

1. The Rocca
2. Church of Holy Spirit
3. Palazzo Pretorio
4. Palazzo Casolani
5. The Collegiate
6. Church of St. Peter
7. Church of St. Niccol

Pecorino of Tuscany

Tuscany’s cheese of choice is pecorino, first made in central Italy more than 500 years ago by hillside shepherds. While flavors and styles vary, all pecorino is made with either sheep’s milk or a combination of cow and sheep’s milk. In springtime, pecorino fresco, soft and lightly flavored, is delicious with fresh fava beans; in fall, a slightly more stagianato, or aged variety is excellent served with sliced pears. Pecorino is especially tasty around Pienza, where different varieties are aged in ash, wrapped in grape leaves, rubbed with peppers or infused with truffles or arugula.